Reports of Chick Lit's Death Are Greatly Exaggerated

Plus: How to bet on the Nobel Prize in Literature

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Today in books: Barnes & Noble buys Borders' mailing list, the favorites to win the Nobel prize for literature, and a look at the 'chick lit' sales figures.

  • Just when it seemed as if the remains of Borders had been completely picked clean comes word that Barnes & Noble has purchased their former rival's "intellectual property" assets--including the old Borders Web site, trademarks, and its 48 million name customer list--for $13.9 million at auction. The transaction was briefly halted last week because of concerns the deal would violate the privacy agreements of some older clients, which prevented their information from being transferred without consent. To get the deal going, the two sides agreed to new privacy measures, which sending email alerts to all former Borders customers about the transaction and offering them a 15 day opt-out window. They also agreed to place "prominent notices atop and as well as take out a full-page ad about the name transfer in USA Today" to spread the word. [paidContent]
  • We've never quite understood why somebody would want to place a bet on who they think would win a literature prize, but we enjoy and appreciate the fact that bookmakers in the United Kingdom are willing to give odds on actual books, if only to see where everyone stands against each other. In advance of the Nobel Prize in Literature being awarded next month, betting firm Ladbrokes has installed Syrian poet Adonis as the 4-to-1 favorite, which The Guardian says is because he also won Germany's very prestigious Goethe prize earlier in the year. 80-year-old Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer is seen as the next most likely winner, coming in at 9-to-2. He's followed by American novelist Thomas Pynchon at 10-to-1. Other familiar names that fall more into the longshot category include:

Haruki Murakami: 16-to-1

Philip Roth: 25-to-1

Cormac McCarthy 25-to-1

Joyce Carol Oates: 25-to-1

Don DeLillo: 25-to-1

Ian McEwan: 40-to-1

Salman Rushie: 40-to-1

Julian Barnes: 80-to-1

Bob Dylan: 100-to-1

[The Guardian]

  • Is chick lit--which The Independent reasonably defines as novels that "explore the conflict between the independence enjoyed by young, professional 'singletons' and the emotional security offered by a partner" dying? Not if you put your faith in the paper's claim that "recent novels by commercial women's authors including Marian Keyes, Jodi Picoult, Veronica Henry, Catherine Alliott, Louise Mensch, MP (née Bagshawe), Dorothy Koomson, Harriet Evans, Jill Mansell and Lesley Pearse are all down by more than 20 per cent on their previous mass-market publications." That type of decline has happened recently across printed books in all genres. Buried in the piece though are stronger, author-specific sales numbers: Jodi Piccoult's hardcopy sales are down 50 percent from her last book, Veronica Henry is off 71 percent, and Marian Keys is off 42 percent. Show us what the ebook numbers are like and you may be on to something. Without that, they can be dismissed as blips, or the public falling out of love with a writer. [The Independent]
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.